Summary and Analysis of “Stakes is High”: Educating New Century Students.
The face of the nation is changing. How people communicate, where they get their information, and how people learn is completely different than it was only several decades ago. The up and coming generations grew up under these changes and as a result do not have the reference point of “how things were” to draw on. This is the central theme of Gloria Ladson-Billings journal article “Stakes is High”: Educating New Century Students. Focusing on black students in America, she points out where things currently are in American public schools, the challenges minority students face to get a good, and the challenge these students will pose to teachers as they try to adapt teaching methods to reflect the changing culture of what Ladson-Billings calls “New Century Students.”
The difference between schools and opportunities between middle class white and minority colored students has long been called an “achievement gap.” Ladson-Billings prefers the term “education debt.” The reason being is that while Black Americans were integral to the building of our country, the culture of the country has not returned this favor. Since schools are funded off property taxes, and many black students come from poor neighborhoods, their school districts are chronically underfunded. The author makes the point that “what has transpired in our communities as an achievement gap we slip into a discourse of individual or personal responsibility for a situation that has been centuries in the making” (Ladson-Billings, 105). According to the research the author cites, 90% of black students attend schools in hyper-segregated districts. As the problem has always existed in one form or another, it is not a new problem, but it is one that offers new challenges to the current generation of educators.
Over the course of America’s history, black students have been kept from voting and also kept from getting a good education. This creates an uphill struggle for black today, since many black families have been caught in a viscous cycle of marginalization. The author notes that over the last 27 educating she has noticed how drastically students have changed. As they have always lived in cyberspace they are a new generation addicted to “electronic narcotics” (Ladson-Billings, 106).
Ladson-Billings points out that even what many adults would consider new and novel technology, such as email, seem dated to this generation of New Century Students. She cites examples from her own career about how she was able to connect with students by learning about the things that are important to them. To this end, since hip-hop is a popular genre of music for black students form disadvantaged backgrounds, the author encourages educators to familiarize themselves with what is important to their students and endeavor to understand their culture.
I find myself agreeing with the points within this article. Though I believe that the New Century Students would apply to students of all economic backgrounds, and not just minority students, schools do need to move away from rote memorization lessons. There was a time where it was important to remember historical dates, but with the power of the Internet in student’s pockets, such information is very dated.
I also agree that when looking at problems in our world such as the educational gaps in our country, it is necessary to be hopeful, not just to look at the problems, but to envision how they will be solved.
"Stakes Is High": Educating New Century Students
Gloria Ladson-Billings The Journal of Negro Education Vol. 82, No. 2, The 33rd Annual Charles H. Thompson Lecture"Stakes is High": Educating New Century Students (Spring 2013) (pp. 105-110)